Part 2

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

TS: Survival. Two kids, aged 3 and 6. It's all about survival. Getting them ready for day-care and school. Not much of Grieg's Peer Gynt in that routine.

GR: I start with a morning coffee, then take my children to school. After, I’ll meet up with Thorben and almost always end up spending an hour or more discussing whatever book we are reading, whatever is going on in the world and drinking lots more coffee. When we get to work, we either work on something together – writing a song the old-fashioned way with a guitar or piano – or huddling up with both our computers editing & cutting stuff up. Afternoons pass by playing computer games, football, reading stories or cooking, but even though I'm not working, the creative process is still going on. So I take notes that I can then work on after bedtime usually accompanied by a glass of wine.

Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?

TS: I think breakthrough work still remains to be seen.

GR: Around 10 years ago, Thorben and I were flying somewhere for a show with our band and he played me a piece of choir music by Eric Whitacre. That melodic yet distinctly modern feel started an inkling of an idea and next summer we tried our hands at composing a choral piece for our concert at Roskilde Festival – one of Europe's biggest rock festivals. A few years later Thorben invited me to re-join the band for a concert at Haldern Pop Festival in Germany to collaborate with the choir Cantus Domus. I did some arrangements, and after that concert, we decided that combining classical choir, current lyrics, a bit of indie sensibility was just what the world needed. Or at least what we needed.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?

TS: Sometimes it's candlelight’s and rye whisky and other times it's just jotting down your thoughts while the three-year-old is screaming for an apple. Point is, for me, it's never set-in-stone. I can try to set a mood, however, it's not always my mind that agrees. And so *beep* (the PS4 boots up)

GR: Ever changing. Just when you think you know how it works, the next time will be different. Accepting the fact that even though I have been writing music for most of my life, every new piece still feels like the first one. And it has to.

Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?

TS: Haven't we all? I'd venture to say, if you've never been hurt by boyfriend/girlfriend so much that you'd have to play the one Richard Marx song over and over again, you've never been in love.

*Or whatever artist you thought was the bee’s knees when you were 12ish.

GR: I constantly use music to process whatever's happening in my life. As a comforter, a new direction, an energizer, a reflection or as something completely unexpected. Some friends of mine recently put out a fantastic film called “Songs of Repression”, where music is used as a symbol of oppression in a colony in Chile with a dark past. Here, music maintained the pretence of normality in a society scarred by abuse, and this notion was completely new to me – that music can not only be a great healing force but also has the power to devastate.

There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?

TS: I don't think we do anything resembling either exchange or appropriation.

GR: In relation to our music this seems like a pretty hypothetical question, but first of all I would say that from a historical perspective, art has spread, travelled and mutated throughout the world, creating a phenomenal scope of diversity, wealth and cultural breadth. I feel that the world, art and cultural connectivity truly benefit from this exchange. To me, there's a sort of inhibitory absurdity if only people with a specific background would be allowed to express themselves within a certain style. Would this mean that only someone with a Western European background could sing opera? Or that The Police should've been a bit less reggae? Having said that, communication and overall humility are crucial: being open about where influences & cultural signs come from and giving credit where it's due is, of course, absolutely vital.

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?

TS: For me, it's sight and sound. I love films. I love reading and music just emphasises my experiences with both. (If it's a good soundtrack in the movie - I listen to it as a soundtrack when reading my books)

GR: Listening to music always creates images, shapes, and colours in my mind. Interestingly, the visual connection to music seems to be stronger when my eyes are closed. I suppose it's all about shutting out the outside world and letting the mind run its own course.

Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

TS: I make music. I am also very political. I try not to mix the two too much. Unless when it is about the planet and our climate. I think it's important to voice your concern and also make sure to have the right political leaders that really want a change for the better and not just aiming at what the voters want to hear.

GR: On a quite practical level, being involved in art in any way forms a strong connection between both people and different cultures. Just singing (or playing) together creates an immediate connection that can transform relations even the connection between the audience and performer can create this bond of common experience – something very beautiful. Our song ‘Missionary Lover’ is about climate change and carries with it the small hope that we can change the world's direction before we have to zoom through space in search of a new planet. Usually, I find that art which has a primary political aim can often be a bit boring, so this is not our main objective. Although, I still hope our music can provide a form of reflection and perhaps a small nudge in the right direction.

What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?

TS: The discomfort of crossing indelible lines relating to those loved and lost.

GR: Phew. Sort of difficult to put into words. That is the reason we do music – because it can express something that words cannot.

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